Monday, February 26, 2007

Gren Bartley and Tom Kitching at the Pack Horse, Loughborough... Friday 23d February, 2007...










































































To the Pack Horse again... originally I wasn't going to go as I was feeling pretty wiped out – and the main act Gren Bartley and Tom Kitching I see regularly over in Nottingham with the Pack Horse curator, Mr Marmion, on the monthly Sunday pub gig when I do the sound/p.a (declaring an interest).... what a mistake it would have been to have missed this...

Some changes: Gren now plays standing up rather than sitting down which gives them a more energetic visual presence. And a pub gig is one thing, where people drift in and out and the music wanders in and out of focus... a set in a club where you have a sympathetic audience up close and personal (including some lively younger fans) has a totally different vibe. Their material has changed as well – some new songs brought in. Gren has also very recently added banjo to his guitar playing – a rapid learning curve going on here as his fluid, complex picking style has been translated onto this second instrument. Which he plays already with the frightening assurance of a veteran, dispelling all the old jokes (well, almost – we have to have some fun...). Tom Kitching also seems to be moving rapidly in his acquisition of new skills and techniques – his violin playing was inspired and on fire this night. Together they played superbly: separately, in their solo spots, equally impressively. And they haven't been playing together that long... add the diversity of material - from the traditional tunes and blues to contemporary and Gren's self-penned songs - the future looks good, especially now that they have been picked up by a major agency. The occasional doubt I've had when watching them over in Nottingham about the pacing of their sets was dispelled here tonight. They were awesome (as one of their fans yelled out several times in appreciation of a particular demonstration of finesse). We were talking later on about comparisons with Spiers and Bowden – another great duo (and one of the few other folk acts I would cross the road for). These guys are in the same league already – and are still in their early twenties...


The night had added value – from Mr Marmion, playing with Tom backing him and later with his usual partner, Dave Morton – who had brought along a friend of his, Tom Patterson, a fine singer-songwriter form the North East. They have had a duo going back for many years – it was good to hear Tom again, a performer with much fire and passion. (Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of them - came back from the bar at the start of their set and watched it from the back of the room - my camera being left on the table at the front). Add the rather splendid Sheila Mosley to the mix with an unaccompanied ballad... my love-hate relationship with Brit folk music continues – with the balance tipped into the positive with much love tonight...

Frank Marmion has a couple of tracks on his club web site front page jukebox - including one song 'Doolin' featuring Tom and Dave Morton...there is also a track on my jukebox if you scroll down the left hand side of this page - two songs, 'Squareriggers' and 'The Dutchman'...


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